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2019 NCAA tournament preview: Florida State

Florida State Seminoles: 27-6, 13-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference

Head coach: Leonard Hamilton (17th season)

Players to watch: Terance Mann (11.2 PPG, .423 3PT%, 6.4 RPG), Trent Forrest (9.1 PPG, 3.8 APG, 4.6 RPG), Mfiondu Kabengele (12.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.5 BPG)

Season recap: Returning most of a roster that made a surprise Elite Eight run last season, the Seminoles entered 2019 primed to be a legitimate contender in the ACC. Although Florida State started the season off strong with wins against LSU and Purdue and a tight loss to Villanova, the Seminoles hit a snag at the beginning of conference play.

After dropping their ACC opener against Virginia and escaping with a win against conference bottom feeder Miami, the Seminoles received a gut-punch in a 80-78 loss to Duke off a Cam Reddish dagger with just over a second remaining. The Blue Devils' victory left Florida State reeling, dropping two consecutive games against Pittsburgh and Boston College and leaving the Seminoles tumbling all the way from No. 13 in the nation to unranked.

However, Florida State regrouped with an offensive resurgence courtesy of ACC 6th-man of the year Mfiondu Kabengele, only dropping one more game in the conference regular season. All season long, the Seminoles used its size and athleticism to bully teams in the paint, and Florida State did just that in the ACC tournament. After downing Virginia Tech in the opening round thanks to a fade away jumper from Terance Mann, the Seminoles earned their biggest win of the season in knocking off Virginia 69-59 on their way to the conference final. 

However, Florida State's surprise run would not last. After knotting the score with the Blue Devils at halftime, Duke's Tre Jones took over to give the Blue Devils a double-digit lead. With Florida State down five with three minutes left, Reddish again was the final nail in the coffin for the Seminoles, knocking down a 3-point jumper to ice the game.

How they make a run: Florida State takes full advantage of size mismatches and feasts in the paint. Kabengele continues his production off the bench, and with veteran players in Mann and Trent Forrest, the Seminoles carve out yet another deep run in the big dance.

How they falter: As has been the achilles heel of Florida State all season, the Seminoles fall into a rut of streaky shooting. Because of their physical style of play, foul trouble also haunts Florida State, limiting the production of their big men. After a promising season, the Seminoles are sent home early due to early deficits in scoring.


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